Wine of the Week: Passover and Easter Wines

The Jewish tradition of Passover and the Christian celebration of Easter usually fall within close proximity of each other, and this year is no exception – they land right on top of each other.

The first night of Passover begins Saturday, while Easter Sunday follows next week.

While both of these Judeo-Christian holidays have significant meaning in their respective religious histories, it has not gone without notice that each celebration has one thing in common – a plethora of food.

While the global pandemic still looms large in our daily lives, it is likely that as more and more people receive vaccines and develop immunity, there will be long overdue family gatherings which will be celebrated with great food and special wines. This is definitely adding icing to both the meal and the festive nature of the evening.

So the wine you pour for your particular celebration – regardless of your religious affiliation – should be as joyous as the occasion itself.

This week, I’ll cover a few recommendations for Passover, and next week I’ll help you get your Easter dinner off to a great start.

For proper observance of Passover, the four cups of wine that are served during a traditional meal – known as the Seder – should be kosher. The wines have to be harvested, vinified and bottled according to very specific rules, and carry a mark (heckscher) that certifies that a Rabbi has supervised the preparation of the wine. Heckschers include either the letter U or the letter K inside a circle on the wine label.

I like beginning any festive affair with sparkling wine. The Nov-vintage Bartenura Asti from Italy is a crowd pleaser. The fruit-driven bouquet of pear, peach and white floral notes are enticing. The slightly sweet notes of pear, apple and peach have just enough natural ripeness to make the flavors stand out without being cloying. The finish is crisp and clean, thanks to the abundant acidity. A good match with fruit-oriented desserts. $20

If roast chicken likes Chardonnay, then your chicken will love the 2016 Covenant Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley of Sonoma, California. The warm days and cool nights in the Russian River Valley produces fruit with abundant acidity that supports the tangy flavors of pears, citrus and nectarine on the front of the palate. Notes of steely minerality and vanilla slide in on the medium-bodied finish. It’s also great with grilled fish or grilled vegetables. $45

If brisket is the star of the Seder table, reach for a bottle of 2018 Herzog Lineage Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles. This Cabernet Sauvignon from the Central Coast of California sports a bouquet that is full of dark black fruit and smoky tobacco. The elegant tannins provide structure to support the rich flavors of blackberry fruit and earthy notes all the way through the soft, pretty finish. $18

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